The MOVE by BJC Blog


Mobility, Flexibility, & Stability: What are they and why are they important?

Friday, November 09, 2018

Mobility, flexibility, and stability of a joint are all important factors to consider throughout your workout routine.  Mobility is the ability of a joint to move freely through a given range of motion (ROM) without restriction from surrounding tissues. Flexibility is defined as the ability of soft tissues (which include muscles, tendons, and ligaments) to lengthen correctly, which allows a joint to move through their optimal ROM.  Stability is the ability of the surrounding soft tissue to support a joint through that ROM.  It is very important to incorporate exercises to challenge each of these three training factors into your weekly routine individually and in combination.  If you are limited in one or more of these types of movement your body will be forced to compensate elsewhere increasing risk of injury.

When it comes to body movement patterns, each of our joints have varying needs for mobility, stability, and flexibility.  For example, our thoracic spine (upper back,) needs to be mobile, this area homes many attachments including the ribs, scapulae, clavicle, and muscles.  While the scapulothoracic joint, where the shoulder blade meets the thoracic spine, should be stable to prevent shoulder injury.  So, while the spine should be mobile for free movement the surrounding joints such as the scapulothoracic and lumbar spine should be stable allowing for proper shoulder use and posture. 

The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) is a tool used by our exercise physiologists and fitness specialists at MOVE by BJC to analyze your movement patterns and assess mobility, flexibility and stability.  The seven fundamental movement patterns observed in the assessment provide feedback of motor control and stabilizing ability of your body.  Based on the results of each individual’s assessment we are able to create effective and safe routines to help improve imbalances and limitations.  This screening can also be effective in predicting injury risk or causes of pain that you may already be experiencing. 

Two factors that contribute to mobility, flexibility and stability and are observed through the FMS screening are neuromuscular control and proprioceptive response. Neuromuscular control, or muscle memory, has proven to have a near immediate effect in improved movement when starting an exercise program.  Meaning, the more often an exercise or movement pattern is practiced in an efficient and safe manor, the easier it will become.  Proprioceptive response refers to the immediate contraction of a muscle when a joint experiences external forces. 

The combination of the FMS screen along with research based practices allow us, as exercise physiologists and fitness specialists at MOVE by BJC to develop personalized programs for you. Because every body is unique in its ability we are able to design workouts that challenge your body to become more mobile, flexible and stable while improving overall health.